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Health Spotlight: Easing neck pain with new treatment

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Suffering from a stiff neck or sore shoulders?

About 25% of people under 40, and 60% of people over the age of 40, have some degree of degenerative disk disease. For most people, physical therapy will do the trick, but for others, a disk fusion was all doctors could offer.

But now, a disk replacement is easing pain while keeping mobility intact.

Clayton Slater took up disc golf to give him and his son something to do, but the pain stopped him from going out on the course.

“I had pain in the shoulders that radiated down my tricep into my arm and my hand,” Slater said.

The pain was actually from a neck injury that happened when Slater fell off a treadmill. Patients with problems in their cervical disks have few options. These problems can happen in the seven disks that run from the base of the skull to the top of the shoulders.

Most are treated with anti-inflammatories and physical therapy, then offered disk fusion.

“The problem is that it creates a domino effect, so, someone gets their neck fused for one or two levels, that then puts pressure, potentially, on the adjacent level,” said Slater

Now, disk replacement is giving patients a more mobile option.

“This is the actual disk replacement device that we, or myself, implant in patients, and you can see, it’s less than the size of your fingertip,”

It’s made out of titanium and plastic.

“So, bone grows into the titanium, and the plastic, basically, acts like a shock absorber and the disk allows the spine to physically move forward, and then back, side to side, and then rotation,“ said Rama.

The surgery only takes 30 minutes. Slater went home the same day and could move his neck immediately. five months later.

“I’m able to do full range of motion everywhere,” said Slater.

Cervical disk replacements are approved by the FDA. Dr. Singh says data shows that artificial cervical disks shouldn’t need to be replaced for at least 20 years.

This story was created from a script aired on WISH-TV. Health Spotlight is presented by Community Health Network.